At the beginning of the year I started looking for a replacement for my E46. A little over ten years after setting out to buy a 330Cd and coming home with the 320Cd, this time I was 100% focussed on a 430d. Why a 430d given the legend of the BMW 35d engine and the current feelings towards diesels? Well, lets expand on that…
30d vs 35d: I have no doubt whatsoever the 35d engine is a phenomenal power unit and mappable to hilarious numbers whilst retaining good fuel economy figures, but there is a rub, xDrive. I don’t dislike 4 wheel drive per se, it’s a very useful feature on a car at times, but there’s 2 main issues; I do ~20k miles a year all funded out my own pocket and the 35d with xDrive is >10% worse on fuel & even MSport spec cars with xDrive come on SE spec springs hence ride ~30mm higher.
The ride & ride height is probably the biggest issue, I like stiffer sprung cars for when I’m enjoying a drive. The standard ride height looks like you could smuggle people across the border tucked in your wheel arches and that combined with the softer springs doesn’t do much for CofG or handling. Yes there are lowering springs available to rectify this, however;
- BMW didn’t raise the ride height for the sake of it, its to protect the transfer case on the transmission and with bumpy country roads and never ending speed tables around, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to risk smashing the transmission
- Do you really want to buy a new car knowing full well you need to modify it to properly like it?
The fuel economy issue I could probably swallow tbh, extrapolating real world numbers, the difference would be in the region of £300 a year which isn’t much, although it is the wife’s Christmas present budget several times over…
Don’t you care about the environment though? Why replace a dirty diesel with another dirty diesel? Why not buy a hybrid / plug-in hybrid / electric car?
Well, contrary to the bile spewed forth in the media, diesels are still very good for certain use scenarios. My usage profile is massively tilted towards extra urban use, in fact I’m sad enough to know just under 88% of my driving is extra urban. At higher speeds, hybrids are less efficient than in a low speed, stop start, urban scenario.
Plug in hybrids would potentially be a better solution, there is the geek element of me that really likes the concept of energy regeneration and I always use as much engine braking and reading the road to minimise braking anyway, its just wasted energy after all. The problem comes from my typical destinations. My driving routine is very predictable, again, over 80% of my journeys are the same week in week out, and next to none of them have a charger at the destination. I could top up each night no problem, but during the day there’s no facility to top up.
What about pure EV? Most of my use would be covered by an EV with 100 miles range, but finding a pure EV I would actually want to drive is the bigger issue. I like coupes, always have, indeed, if the 330e had been a 430e, there’s every chance I would have man-math & rose tinted away the tales of random drivetrain faults etc I read up about and taken the plunge. On the pure EV front, there’s next to nothing out there. The Tesla Model S is coupe shape[ish], but its also double the budget, looks are meh and trim materials and panel fit are nowhere near the price point its sold at.
I have no doubt my next car will be PHEV or full EV. Right now, for my tastes, usage profile and budget, a diesel is the best solution.
So on to my new car. I didn’t really mean to buy it.
As I said, at the start of the year I was looking at buying a 430d. My spec was pretty specific:
Model: 430d in 2WD
Colour [in order of preference]: Mineral Grey -> Estoril Blue -> Sapphire Black
Must Have Options: 4 pot / 2 pot brake upgrade, Pro Nav, Harman Kardon, 19in wheels [which translates to MSport Plus spec]
I was looking at cars up to 3 years old and under 30k. Start of February I was ready to pull the trigger, had a chunk of savings, topped up with a personal loan, had found a car and arranged to buy it. Finished work at noon on Friday as always, scarpered out to my car, out the carpark by 12:01, pointed the nose south and lit the afterburner. 270 miles later, just after 4pm I rolled in to the car park at the dealers to check out their black 430d MSport Plus. Problem, it wasn’t their 430d, it was a friend of someone in the dealership and they were selling it sale or return for them. I have nothing against that, it can work out nicely for all involved. What I do have an issue with is a car that’s been poorly prepped with manky barrels on the wheels, muck and leaves all over the shop under the bonnet, one side of the boot soaking wet, condensation in both taillights and both front tyres missing any discernible corner tread where the car had been battered through tight roundabouts. Pretty pissed off to say the least at this point, not helped by the salesman suggesting as it was still under its original BMW warranty I could get them to look at the boot leaking and taillight condensation problem after buying it, this of course after telling me they all do that [taillights] and it must have been the jetwash [boot seal]. Return of holding deposit agreed, off to find a Tesco for a snack and some diesel to return home. 10pm, home after 10 hours and 550 miles of wasted time.
I went with main dealers after that, a few cars came up but also went quick. Missed out on 3. With my wedding pending and the decision to sell my flat, I decided to park the new car search until I had sold my flat. Then a mate got a 430d in stock…
Older than I had been after, by 1 year. Higher miles than I had been after, nearly 3 times the mileage in fact. Within budget, actually £8k / 30% cheaper than the other ones I had been looking at. Also came with carbon front splitter and rear spoiler, sunroof and a ton of other options [spec’d one on the BMW website the other week to the same spec, less the carbon spoiler and splitter, £49,945!]
Deal done. Determined I’m getting this one to quarter of a million miles…